Ohio State’s recruiting football rivalry with Alabama is about to become more real: Buckeye Take

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio’s field rivalry with Alabama is cooling on ice, ready to be spilled if necessary if the College Football Playoff matches the teams ahead of their 2027-28 series.

The recruiting rivalry will heat up sooner than that, if you haven’t already.

It’s not about Buckeye’s commitment to the release of Devonta Smith, at least not directly. Cincinnati cornerback La Salle has not chosen a destination since she pulled out of her OSU engagement earlier this week, though her 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions began to shift to Alabama before the announcement.

Losing an Ohio player in Alabama, yes, even a three-star prospect ranked No. 400 on the 247 National Sports Compound, can have consequences. Ultimately, those consequences will no longer be theoretical.

Previously, the Ohio State’s recruiting rivalry with any program outside of the Big Ten was more vague. The College Football Playoff brought a more tangible consequence to any recruiting battle with the other elite national programs, specifically Clemson and Alabama.

The Buckeyes have already taken a few hits in those battles.

Jackson Carmen grew up less than a two-hour drive from Ohio Stadium in the Cincinnati suburbs. He then chose Clemson and helped beat OSU at last year’s Fiesta Bowl in the playoff semifinals. The Crimson Tide ranked Jordan Battle among the top 50 defenders of its commitment to the OSU in December 2018. It would line up in high school if the teams meet in this year’s playoffs.

However, the Buckeyes were unsure if they would play against the Tigers during Carman’s or Battle’s career. They don’t know for sure that they will play Alabama while Smith is in college.

That speculative battlefield will soon change.

Ohio State and Alabama agreed on a home-and-home series for 2027-28. When one lands a player that the other program also recruited, that player will surely be on the sideline opposite the team that rejected, if not on the field.

That dynamic already exists within the Big Ten, of course. Penn State has to face Kyle McCord of Philadelphia St. Joseph and Marvin Harrison Jr. when they played at Ohio State starting in 2021. Ohio State has to prepare for an additional challenge from former Buckeye assistant and Browns coach Mel Tucker, who dive into his territory for Michigan State.

Ohio State and Alabama are caught up in battles for several of the top 2022 recruits: Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers and catcher Caleb Burton, California catcher CJ Williams and Florida safety Markeith Williams, among others.

Those perspectives won’t influence 2027-28 home and home, either. But one can reasonably expect a handful of these matchups each season. Between now and 2027, an Alabama coach will make an appearance at an Ohio high school looking for a player the Buckeyes want to stay home with.

Losing national recruits is one thing. Losing one of your backyard hurts even more. Losing one who hits you head to head leaves a mark.

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